Last month I addressed the concept of learning how to learn. It’s virtually impossible for me to learn something (add or change a belief, initiate or learn a skill, etc.) when I believe I know the subject matter. Almost inevitably I will take the information that someone is trying to teach me and compare it against what I already know. And then, with no motivation to do otherwise, I’ll discount it, or even argue with it either covertly or overtly.
Depending on the social situation, I may even nod up and down indicating I understand and now accept the new information (when behind these smiling eyes I think this new stuff is nuts)!
Real teachers know this. They sit in front of a class (of third graders, high school kids, or executives in an educational retreat) and place their theories out for approval. They are, for all intents and purposes, talking heads for what they believe is a different or new reality—unless they’re really good and understand that learning doesn’t easily happen when people are being told from the teacher’s Knower/Judger position. Ironically, the recipients of this communication are usually also in their K/J and so ‘receive,’ compare, judge, and promptly discount it, unless it aligns with or confirms what they already think or know (i.e., they have confirmation bias).
It takes a special tool to put me into “learning” mode (out of my K/J and into my Learner/Researcher headspace). I believe that when we are on autopilot almost all of us naturally resist learning unless and until we understand that what we “know” now is no longer serving us. Simply put, if I’m dumb, fat, and happy with how my life, job, golf swing, etc. is going, why do I need your input? My K/J is not capable of switching gears like that because it just manifestly “knows” what it knows. And if your concept doesn’t fit my interpretation, then I can let yours go… no action required on my part. Passive feels right.
But if what I “know” isn’t working for me now, then my K/J needs PERMISSION to set its understanding aside and test out new possibilities. In this instance, the K/J has to turn off its autopilot setting that says it’s totally comfortable with its vast stores of knowledge. It must permit this new information to enter and defer to the L/R. This is tough for the K/J—it’s our DRIVER! K/J is our guide when we need a quick, gut answer. For the most part, we just let it run the show.
How does L/R grant permission?
How do I suddenly come to understand that what I know now is no longer serving me? Through accessing my L/R. The Learner/Researcher (that thinks about other options more than simply reacting) has actually piped up to determine that “I don’t make enough money” or “I’m not happy with my job situation.”
Then when I feel that K/J ‘knows’ otherwise—that “I’m not worth more money” or “I can’t afford to switch jobs” (via glass ceiling thinking or restrictive self-talk)—I feel fear. That’s when L/R must permit K/J to help effect change.
K/J can recognize when it doesn’t know enough and when to RECIPROCATE and permit L/R to take over again—if only long enough to rewrite the ‘hard and fast’ K/J rules (that again feel like they’re set in stone).
Most of us at some time or another have been in the role of teacher. Since we are passing on to our students our understanding of a subject, we are transmitting from our K/J, almost by definition (unless we actively remain a thinking lifelong learner and adjust our knowledge in real time). Similarly, the K/J student is out there, doodling because his K/J does not see the benefit of adjusting his knowledge or nodding in pretend agreement for good grades or maybe even asking questions.
Wait a minute!
If asking questions, then he’s no longer in K/J, right? His L/R has decided you might have a point that can benefit and that’s why you teach. Because every once in a while you run across someone who’s already learned how to welcome some K/J-doubt and relinquish the dialog to the L/R. Your student has invited your wisdom in. And that’s the person (like the good putt on a bad day) that will keep you excited and coming back for more.